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​5 Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It’s the holiday season, and for many people this time of year is full of happiness, laughter and merrymaking. But for some, the weeks leading up to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the New Year and many other winter celebrations can be stressful, disheartening and emotionally draining. For many more people, this time of year causes them to feel a mix of “positive” and “negative” emotions, depending on what’s going on around them at any particular moment. 

It’s important to remember that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to experience the holiday season, but if you find yourself facing some challenging feelings or situations, there are things you can do to help yourself cope. Here are 5 ideas to get you started. 

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1.    Use a positive phrase. If you start to feel overwhelmed by family drama, budget woes, or a host of other stressful situations, Dr. Michele Borba suggests repeating to yourself a calming phrase like “I can do this”, “Stay calm and breathe slowly”, or “It’s nothing I can’t handle” to help you cope.

2.    Meditate daily. The Force Society in BC suggests taking up meditation, or keeping up with your current mindfulness practice if you already have one. This can be difficult if you’re pressed for time, but even 2 minutes a day can make a huge difference. 

3.    Give the gift of your presence instead of presents. Is gift giving giving you a headache? Ben W. says, “I tell people I’d rather share a meal than exchange gifts. It’s more personal and less stressful than picking gifts.” This is a great idea, especially if you’re living on a tight budget and looking for an excuse to hang out with your friends. 

4.    Be honest about how you feel. Don’t force yourself to feel happy or excited just because it’s the holiday season. If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with the people you care about, it’s okay and completely normal to feel sadness and grief. Take time to express and honour your emotions. (And if you want to talk to someone about how you feel, DO IT. If you live in Canada, you can call a crisis line, Kids Help Phone or Good 2 Talk 24/7 for free.) 

5.    Learn to say no. Don’t feel obligated to attend every holiday party or family reunion. Remember the importance of self-care and taking time out for yourself and what you want to do. Saying yes to happiness means saying no to the things and people that stress you out! 

Remember, it's okay to ask for help. You can visit us at the Youth Centre located in the Mississauga Central Library (2nd floor) or give us a call at 905-451-4655 to schedule a counselling appointment. The Tangerine Walk-In Clinic is also an option if you need help right now but don't feel comfortable committing to long-term counselling. 

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